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Tehan plays down nuclear Surf Coast talk

February 27, 2024 9:43 am in by
Federal Wannon MP Dan Tehan says he's on the record backing an eco-tourism project for Anglesea's former coal mine, as his party pushes for nuclear reactors to be built on such sites (FACEBOOK).

The federal member for Wannon is downplaying the possibility his party’s push for nuclear power will lead to a reactor in Anglesea.

Opposition leader Peter Dutton last year suggested Alcoa’s former coal mine and power station in the town would suit a reactor, a suggestion that’s since gained currency with the coalition saying it’s developing an energy policy that would include plans for small modular reactors (SMR’s).

“It’s zero emissions, you can put it into an existing brownfield site – so when the coal fired generation comes to an end, you can put the nuclear modular reactors into that facility,” Mr Dutton said while visiting the region in September last year.

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Liberal party colleague and federal MP for the coast Dan Tehan says he backs his party’s nuclear plan, including the proposal to build reactors at coal sites.

“One of the ways that you could do this is look at existing, or old coal power sites, as places to put them,” he said.

Mr Tehan is a little more circumspect on whether he thinks Anglesea will qualify for the list of potential nuclear reactor sites, largely because of stalled plans for it to be turned into an eco-tourism for the UK based Eden Project.

“There is already an excellent proposal for the old Alcoa site, the Eden Project…I am on the record as supporting the Eden Project,” he said.

Alcoa’s former coal mine and pit behind Anglesea (GEELONG BROADCASTERS).
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“Planning is already taking place, and we’re looking at the first small modular nuclear reactor occurring in 2035, obviously the community and everyone hopes that the Eden Project will be up and running by that stage.”

Community support for the proposed $150 million environment park on the former Alcoa mine and power station site behind Anglesea has cooled considerably since it was first proposed in 2019.

Deputy Surf Coast mayor Mike Bodsworth is now openly questioning if it would be a good fit for the town, given it was projected to bring a similar number of people to the town as already live their.

“There are a lot like me who are wary of the proposal and definitely question the need, probably very, very sceptical about their being a need for it,” he said.

“If you’re talking about an attraction that brings in say 3-5000 people on busy days, or around 3000 people a day average, then that’s the population of Anglesea.”

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The project has also been plagued by delays, with Alcoa missing a deadline set by Eden to have its former coal pit half filled with water by now. There’s also rumours of a rival proposal that’s being prepared for the site, which is still undergoing remediation by Alcoa after nearly half a century of mining and power production there.

“My understanding is that Alcoa are firmly in favour of the Eden Project, and that is what they think is the best way to rehabilitate the site,” Mr Tehan said.

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